Help your kids discover the diamond within them

Oct 16, 2023

This is a special week! For this week’s blog I have collaborated with one of the very first cello students that entered my studio back in 2020. He started taking classes along with his daughter 3 years ago now.


I would like to introduce Ray Bartlett! He is a novelist and travel writer as well as a adult cello student in Inner Voice Academy. A few weeks ago I sent a message out to all of the parents in the membership asking, “What does the cello mean to you as a parent?” The responses I got were beautiful and so touching as a new parent myself to my 5 month old little boy. Ray, being the writer he is came back to me with an incredibly well thought out answer. One that I know he wrote from the heart. I had to ask him right then and there if I could post his answer as a blog, so here it is for you today!


This is for you if you are a parent and you are wondering what it is like to learn or even re-learn an instrument, especially if you have kids that also play an instrument. His testimonial will inspire you to take action and do it while your kids are still young so that you can help calm them through music, guide them into loving music as well, and foster beautiful relationships that last!

What learning the cello with my daughter means to me as a parent

Ray Bartlett (@kaisoradotcom), novelist and travel writer


Like nearly everything in parenting, learning an instrument with your child holds challenges, surprises, and some lovely rewards if you stick with it long enough. In my case, my love of cello came from learning it when I was my daughter's age and then stopping about the age she is now, in middle school. At the time I was so relieved to never have to struggle through another scale or "Waste" my precious time practicing. But as I grew older, and saw musicians who didn't stop practicing become the truly brilliant masters they could be, and I found myself regretting that I'd let cello go.


Not that I think I could have been a master cellist. I'll never know. The process of learning an instrument, or pursuing any creative art, be it painting or writing or music or dance, is much like holding a hairdryer against a giant cube of ice, melting it away in hopes of finding there's a diamond invisibly encased inside. Only by melting that ice, practicing, can one hope to discover the diamond.  And there's simply no guarantee there's anything there at all. So one has to at some level be willing to simply plug away, melting ice for the sake of melting ice, enjoying the process. Over time, the ice does slowly melt away and one sees how much progress has been made. It's not easy to see day by day, but year by year, just like a glacier receding, the change becomes evident.


So the challenge as a parent learning an instrument with one's child is to not be too focused on the diamond. I don't want to scare her, burden her, or make her dread the instrument. Practice does not make perfect. Many people become thoroughly competent players of cello without ever having the potential to be geniuses. And likewise, some geniuses pick up cello and the ice melts away much faster than for someone sitting right next to them. Practice makes competency. But the paradox is that only by practice can one ever reach the point where genius starts to appear.


I recently was lucky enough to see the famous YouTube pair _Two Set Volin_ in concert, and went away dazzled and awed not just by their musical talent, but by how they could be so ineffably good while performing stunts like hula hooping or fighting over a shared piano — all without missing a single note. Anyone who knows Two Set knows the quote "Ling Ling 40 hour a day!" and I wondered how anyone could be that good without practicing 40 hours a day. Yet I'm sure these two didn't, they just are geniuses. The temptation to call them naturals or think that it's effortless is there, but that's not the case.  Even geniuses have to start with a massive hurdle to climb over. 


As I drove home, I kept wondering, "What if that pair had never been introduced to the violin?" Or what if they'd had the chance to take lessons, but stopped after only a few I had? What other string virtuosos are out there but simply never had the chance to melt away that ice until the diamond could appear? 


I would love to see my child become a master cellist, as any parent would want their child to be the best at what they do. Nothing would fill me with more pride and yes, sure, my own playing would be vicariously better for her success. But right now, and for years into the future, we'll be melting ice together, getting incrementally better thanks to practice (and the encouragement and enthusiasm of a great teacher). It's nice to see her improve, but even better, it's wonderful to see how my return to the cello opened a door for her, through which she stepped into the vast realm of the world of music. Now she understands how thrilling classical music can be. She now plays in the school orchestra, has met new friends, has performed in front of family and her school. She's discovered Two Set and other talented musicians, and in becoming a fan, she's also been learning what composers she likes, which concertos she wants to play. She's even talked about trying to make a quartet at her school.


The biggest joy for me in playing cello with her is seeing her become a part of the fascinating, enriching world of classical music. Or maybe the reverse: I love seeing classical music become a part of her. That means more to me than anything else. Cello has shaped and enriched both our lives vastly beyond the simple act of practicing an instrument. Being able to give your children the gift of creativity, of experiences, and of learning and see it become a part of who they are...that's a very powerful joy. It's also given us a shared experience, a father-daughter bond, a new connection, and while I think it's safe to say that I won't ever be playing a cello on stage while hula hooping to thousands of adoring fans, who knows, maybe my daughter will. The jury's still out. Regardless of what the future holds, it’s undeniable that the process has brought her companions and community and confidence, and what could a parent want more than that?


As a parent, it's been wonderful to think that my casual decision to borrow a cello and give it a try after 40 years has become such a meaningful part of her life. I would love to see her be able to play cello for decades, and to have it keep opening doors for her. But even if she eventually decides to stop playing, she won't lose that understanding of music, the memories she's making with orchestra friends, and the fun of progressing and getting better at something by practicing at it.


Maybe not 40 hours…But a little bit each day.

Ray, thank you so much for sharing not only your incredible skill with words, but for writing from the heart. Sharing with us a peak into what it is like to learn the cello as an adult and have that connection with your daughter through music. 


The main thing I would like you, the reader, to take away from this blog today is that your experience with music can only make you and your kids better. You have nothing to lose, only wealth of joy to gain from the experience! 


When you learn an instrument with your child, they are far more likely to continue. What that means for you is helping them fulfill their potential. The real value is that they will have the joy of music for the rest of their lives!


Here’s what Christie, another parent said about her experience of sharing learning the cello with her kids:


Nurturing a love of music in your kids is something you want, right?


If your answer is a resounding “YES!” then you are in the right place because there is something very exciting coming to you in January that will help you with EXACTLY this!


In fact, you can tell me exactly what problems you are facing that you would like to solve using THIS LINK. It will take you to a super short survey that will give you a chance to tell me what you are struggling with and what matters most to you. 


Now if you read this blog post today and have some questions, please put it in the comments below, or you can book a discovery call (CLICK HERE) with me to ask them directly. This will save you time. It is my joy and honor to help guide you to seeing if the cello can have this kind of impact in you and your kid’s lives as well. It is so possible for you! 


Can’t wait to chat!

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